Art Beat: From "Most Wanted" To Native American Storyteller

Nov 1, 2018

Credit Courtesy Kalamazoo Valley Museum

Larry “Pun” Plamondon was a troublemaker as a kid. It got worse as he grew older. Drawn to the bottle and petty crime by the time he was 14, the court sent him away to a reform school. But as soon as he was out, he ran away. At 19 he became a union organizer. And by 27 he was accused of bombing a CIA building in Ann Arbor, and Plamondon wound up on the FBI’s "Ten Most Wanted" list.

When he was 37, Plamandon's life was a ruin of alcohol and drugs — until he connected to his ethnic heritage in the Ottawa tribe of Native Americans. Today, Plamondon is known for his Native American storytelling as well as revisiting his life story in his memoir, Lost From the Ottawa: The Story of the Journey Back (Trafford, 2004).

“I’m very proud of it,” says Plamondon, when asked about being on the "Most Wanted List." “We were in the U.P. and we were going to Florida. We got a ride outside of Flint, and the guy took us to Detroit. He dropped us off at the Greyhound bus station in downtown Detroit. It was quite a scene, actually, full of people. All these young people in army fatigue jackets with flowers sewn on them, young women with long hair and in bell bottoms, a lot of flowers and wearing beads. Hippies - they were there in the thousands. The movement was on, anti-war demonstrations, and in September 1968 an unknown person or persons planted a dynamite bomb at a clandestine CIA office (in Ann Arbor). No one was hurt, and actually there was little damage.”

Credit Trafford Publishing

Plamondon still won’t say if he was involved in the bombing or not. But he and his wife left the country after the explosion and made their way to Algeria. It did not take long, however, before homesickness hit, and Plamondon chose to return to the United States, where he was arrested in 1970. He spent 32 months in a federal prison but his case was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court, when the government admitted to wiretapping him without a warrant. The Court held that even the invocation of "national security" by the president couldn't insulate illegal activity from the constitutional right to privacy, and Plamondon’s case was dismissed.

Plamondon is also known for being a founder of the White Panther Party. He's also driven equipment trucks for rock bands like Kiss and Foreigner. He began storytelling after being complimented by friends over breakfast at a restaurant for his ability to hold an audience with Native American folklore. That became his new passion.

Plamondon shares Native American stories at schools, museums, libraries, summer camps, and other events. He will be joined by Native American musicians at an event called "Sky Legends of the Three Fires" on November 2 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. The event, which is part of the Kalamazoo Art Hop, is free and open to the public.

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